Keyword research is just as useful as other components in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) when it comes to enhancing more growth in your business especially when you want to get ranked on top positions in SERP (Search Engine Results Pages).
The underlying power of keyword research is that it provides you better insights on understanding your target audience. This can be in terms of how are they searching for your content, services, or products offered on your site.
In addition to that, doing keyword research also shows you a complete search analysis for questions like:
- What is your target audience wanting to find out?
- How many people are looking for the same information?
- What type of content do they want for that information?
In this article, you’ll get to know how to do proper keyword research using the right keyword research tools and tips to get your site ranked faster on search engines.
Before going any further, let’s take a look at the definition of keyword research below.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword Research is the core SEO step that involves identifying and analyzing certain phrases and terms that people are looking for in the search engines.
Why Keyword Research Matters?
By doing keyword research, it allows you to know what to rank for in the search engines as well as give you a strong insight on how high or low the search volume is for those keywords.
The keyword research also enlightens you on how competitive certain keywords are. Consequently, this will tell you how easy or difficult it will be to rank for that particular keyword on organic search results.
For your information, doing keyword research isn’t just about finding out how many searches have been made for that particular keyword – it’s also about finding out what are the topics and queries that people are interested to know.
Thus, from doing keyword research based on popular topics, high search volume, and general search intent, you’re able to create content that can solve the questions that your audience wants to find out.
Now that you have grasped the idea behind keyword research, it’s important for you to target the right types of keywords. This is because a successful keyword research strategy begins from finding out the best keyword opportunities that can increase traffic, qualified leads, and conversions for your site.
Types of Keywords
Before you do proper keyword research, you first should know what are the available types of keywords for your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) strategies.
These types of keywords are:
Let’s take a look at each of them closely below.
1. Targeting Keywords
Targeting keywords are the keywords that are connected to your market offerings, target market, and your industry. These keywords consist of:
- Market segment keywords
When it comes to targeting the market segment keywords, the key questions that you first need to think of are like:
“What are the terms or phrases that my market uses to define itself?”
“What are the phrases that my target market uses to describe my brand or business?”
In addition to that, market segment keywords are extremely important for your SEO on-page optimization. By following the best SEO practices, adding market segment keywords will help boost in content creation for your site or blog.
Also, using market segment keywords are very helpful when you want to seek for link building opportunities. Every marketer should know that getting other websites to link back to your website can drive referral traffic and increase your website’s authority.
For more information on the basics of link building in SEO, you can check out the article here.
Now that we’ve covered market segment keywords let’s move on to the next type of keyword which is customer-defining keywords.
- Customer-defining keywords
The customer-defining keywords are the specific search phrases that are focused on your target customers. If your business is customer-oriented, this type of keyword should be your main target.
In order for you to know what phrases or terms that your customers use to describe themselves, you may ask yourself these questions first:
“What do my target customers define themselves?”
“How do my target customers refer themselves in their group?”
These questions will help your research in finding the right keywords for your target customers. Besides that, the importance of choosing the right customer-defining keywords is that it will guide you in discovering other customer groups that may relate to your target audience.
In simpler words, you may be able to develop a connection with potential customers that want or need your products or services.
So, by having a strong understanding of how to use customer-defining keywords, you are able to create powerful content for your site, develop strong link-building opportunities and create new connections with potential customers online.
- Product keywords
Product keywords define what you sell in your business. They are the specific terms that your target audience uses to search for your brand offerings in the search engine.
The main importance of product keywords is that they are very detailed and straightforward. Your target audience will know what exactly they are looking for in their search queries and this will bring them closer to know more about your products or services offered.
In addition to that, product keywords allow you to narrow down your market segments that are loyal and devoted to your brand, product type or style. By finding out these segments, you’ll be able to acknowledge product enthusiasts that you can approach for linking and brand building.
Thus, it’s been proven that product keywords can be a great starting point for your keyword research strategy as well as to build your site and blogs for content creation.
- Branded keywords
In comparison with other targeting keywords types, branded keywords are search terms or phrases that you include your brand’s name or variations of the brand name.
These variations can be your brand name along with your product type, product name, or any other elaborative phrase. For example, Nike running shoes, Adidas sportswear, etc.
The main usage of branded keywords is to increase your consumer traffic to your site that may haven’t heard of your brand or your company while improving your marketing strategies for consumers that are familiar with your brand who look for information on your website.
However, it is crucial to always monitor what your audience searches for your brand including the brand names of your competitors. Doing clear research on your brand keywords will allow you to:
- Identify any faulty error or unclear parts on your website in order for you to serve your audience better and have a smooth website experience.
- Plan a strategic company’s content strategy that can help your customers understand your site’s features seamlessly.
- Acknowledge any weaknesses of your products or services that your customers experience
- Detect where your competitors are lacking from and how you can take advantage of this to serve your audience better
- Geo-targeted keywords
Just like how it sounds, geo-targeted keywords are the keywords that are targeted based on location. It is the keyword type that directs your audience to a certain set of localized results that are close to them, or in any other region, they are interested in.
How does it work? Well, formerly known as AdWords, Google Ads provides a feature for search advertisers to set certain locations for their ad to be shown.
This tactic is usually common for businesses that rely on foot traffic and/or home-specific deliveries like restaurants, brick-and-mortar stores, and E-commerce sites.
If you need further information on geo-targeted keywords, you can have a read through the article here on geo-targeting.
2. Keywords by Length
Another method that you can use to optimize your keyword research is by their length. There are three types of keywords by length which they are:
- Short-tail Keywords
- Mid-tail Keywords
- Long-tail Keywords
Let’s take a look at each of them below.
1. Short-tail keywords
Short-tail keywords or also known as generic keywords are search phrases that are usually made up of one or two words. Sometimes, short-tail keywords are also called as head keywords.
The characteristics of short-tail keywords that you should know are:
- High search volume
- High competitive rate
- Generic search intent
- Low conversion rate
- It can be used as a theme keyword that constantly appears on your site page
2. Mid-tail keywords
As for mid-tail keywords, they fall in between short-tail keywords and long-tail keywords as shown in the table below.
Usually, the search phrases for mid-tail keywords are made up of two to three words and they are a little bit descriptive compared to short-tail keywords.
3. Long-tail keywords
In comparison to short-tail and mid-tail keywords, the long-tail keywords are search phrases that are very specific and mainly targeted to your focus topic or audience.
The main characteristics of the long-tail keywords that you need to know are:
- Have a low volume of search traffic
- Low competition rate
- Users use long-tail keywords for a more specific search intent
- It can be used on targeted pages like your company’s product page or blog posts.
3. On-Site Keywords
As for On-site keywords, this refers to the types of keywords that you’ll use for content creation like new blog posts or landing pages.
These types of keywords consist of:
- Primary keywords
- Related or LSI keywords
A primary keyword refers to the principal keywords on your webpage that you want to rank. Every page of your SEO content should have one primary keyword that you are targeting.
In addition to that, you should always optimize the keywords you’re targeting for using the designated keywords optimization tools. This method is to help the search engines, as well as your readers, understand the content of your page and promote the chances of ranking.
If you need further understanding of how to pick the best primary keyword for your page, you can check out this article here on The Essential Keyword Optimization Cheat Sheet for Better SEO.
Related or LSI Keywords
Related or LSI keywords (latent semantic keywords) are the conceptually related phrases or terms that search engines use to understand the content on your webpage.
Do take note that LSI keywords are not literally synonyms of your primary keyword. Instead, they are the phrases that closely linked to your target keyword.
For example, say your primary keyword is ‘running‘. The synonym for running is sprinting. However, that’s not an LSI keyword. If your primary keyword is ‘running‘, your LSI keywords are probably things like “running shoes“, “running benefits“, etc.
These keywords are used to support the primary keyword in your page content. Each page of your SEO content should have one primary keyword and three to four LSI keywords that would provide extra context to your page.
Consequently, the search engines will be able to understand your content page and this will increase your chances to rank consistently.
You may check out this article here for more information on LSI Keywords.
4. Google Ads Keywords
Google Ads or formerly known as Google AdWords, are the specific keywords that you will use for targeted advertising campaigns. There are certain types of Google Ads keywords that you need to know which they are:
- Broad match keywords
- Phrase match keywords
- Exact match keywords
- Negative keywords
Before we go any further on these types of Google Ads keywords, you can refer to the infographic below for a more understanding of how does Google Ads works including some important factors like cost-per-click and quality score.
1. Broad Match Keywords
Broad match keywords are the search term that you aim for in Google Ads search campaign.
When your search phrase is set as a broad match keyword, Google Ads system will automatically run your ad for any search that has relevant variations of it which include synonyms, possible misspellings, or other related topics.
For example, look at the table below.
2. Phrase Match Keywords
A phrase match keyword is a specific search term that you target in Google Ads. In comparison to broad match keywords, phrase match keywords are more specific but more flexible than exact match keywords.
When your search term is set as a phrase match keyword, Google Ads will show your ad to the audience who are looking for the exact keyword or the closest similarity of the exact keyword, with additional words before or after.
Take a look at the example in the table below:
When using phrase match keywords, you can reach out to more audience while targeting your ad to your focused customers that are searching for your products or services.
3. Exact Match Keywords
As for exact match keywords, it is the specific keywords where you can display your ad to the audience who are looking for the exact keyword, or closely relevant to your exact keyword.
For instance, whether your audience is looking for “running shoes” or “shoes for running“, both remain the same which they’re looking for running shoes.
Having close variants of exact match keywords allows you to build connections with potential customers that are looking for your business though they may be some disparities in the keywords they search for.
These close variants include misspellings, singular or plural forms, abbreviations, etc. Let’s take a look at the example shown in the table below:
Among the four Google Ads keywords types, exact match keywords provide you full control over who can see your ad and potentially result in high clickthrough-rate (CTR).
4. Negative Keywords
Negative keywords are the phrases that you exclude from your ad campaigns and allow you to only target for the right keywords that matter to your audience.
In other words, using negative keywords is to prevent your ad from being shown to irrelevant search queries that may appear to be similar.
For example, let’s say you’re an optometrist selling eyeglasses, you may want to add negative keywords for search phrases like “wine glasses” or “drinking glasses”.
In addition to that, there are a few key points that you need to keep in mind when using negative keywords for your search campaign which they are:
- [Brackets] represents a keyword in exact match
- “Quotations” refer to a keyword in phrase match
- (+) Pluses refer to keyword in a modified broad match
- No notation at all means standard broad match
- (-) Minuses represent a negative keyword before a keyword
For more information on negative keywords, check out the post here on The Beginner’s Guide to Using Negative Keywords. You can watch the video below to have a clear clarification on using negative keywords.
5. Buyer Keywords
The buyer keywords are the phrases or terms that your audience uses to purchase your products or services. There are three types of buyer keywords which each of them refers to a different type of search intent.
These types of buyer keywords are as follows:
1. Informational Keywords
Informational keywords or “know” keywords are search phrases that your audience uses when they want to look for general information about a particular topic.
The audience typically uses informational keywords when they’re at the awareness phase of the purchase funnel. In this phase, they know they have a problem or a need but they aren’t sure how to solve it or fulfill the need.
Therefore, they use informational keywords to look for solutions and answers. For example, “what’s the best running shoes”.
2. Navigational Keywords
Navigational keywords or “go” keywords are search terms that your audience keys in when they want to visit a webpage for a specific brand, product or services.
Searchers usually use the navigational keywords when they’re at the consideration phase of the purchase funnel. In this phase, they are doing researches on different brands that can provide them the best solution to their problems.
For example, “Nike running shoes”.
3 Transactional Keywords
Transactional keywords or also known as “do” keywords are phrases that your audience uses when they’re ready to make purchases and they use this keyword when they’re in conversion phase.
This means they have made their decision on the products or services they’re ready to purchase. So, they use specific buying keywords to help them find the right place to make their purchases.
For example, “best deals on Nike running shoes”, “Nike shoe A vs shoe B”, “Nike vs Puma”
Now that you’ve identified the importance of choosing and understanding the right types of keyword, it is also important to know how can you effectively plan them out?
Let’s take a look at the keyword research strategies below.
Keyword Research Strategies
The idea of doing keyword research is more than just increasing traffic to your website from the organic search results. Digital marketing has now evolved tremendously and most everything is done online now.
The main goal of doing keyword research is to understand how your target audience looks for information in the search engines.
While there are several types of keywords available, the concept of planning a keyword research strategy is essential in order for you to know how you can provide your audience as well as the search engines with the utmost value.
Listed below are 4 essential practices that you can begin with for an effective keyword strategy planning.
- Establish Objectives & Key Results
- Target Audience Behaviour
- Identify Opportunities & Priorities Through Strong Data
- Pillar Content & Topic Cluster Approach
1. Set Objectives & Key Results
Before performing an effective keyword research strategy planning, it is important for you to set clear objectives and key results that you aim to achieve in your content strategy.
The common keyword research metrics that you need to keep track of are:
- Position on SERPs
- Keyword search volume
- Cost-per-click (CPC)
- Traffic (%)
- Keyword competition score
There are plenty of keyword research tools like Moz Keyword Explorer, SEMrush, etc. that can help you keep track and review your keyword performance. These tools provide you clear query data that your audience has been searching for and from this data, you can know what keywords you can target.
2. Target Audience Behaviour
Once you have figured out the objectives and key results that you plan to achieve to determine the effectiveness of your keyword research strategy, the next step is to target your audience’s behavior.
You can determine this by identifying the topics that your audience is interested in your industry through a list of questions that your customers and prospects are wanting to know.
You can look into forums, social groups, review sites, etc. where your audience usually goes to get solutions for their queries.
In addition to that, you can also look for information through surveying and researching your target audiences such as analyzing the report in Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
By doing this, you’re able to know what are the keywords you’ll be considering using for your keyword research strategy. You may consider using Keywords Everywhere to get estimations on search volume, competition, and cost-per-click (CPC) for the keywords you’re targeting for in search engines.
3. Identify Opportunities & Priorities Through Strong Data
The next thing you can do for an effective keyword research strategy planning is to identify your keyword opportunities and priorities by analyzing your current keyword performance and competition.
You can try using software like Google Analytics and SEMRush to analyze your keyword metrics like its current ranking position, search volume, and competition rate.
Once the metrics have been analyzed, it is important for you to record these metrics in a keyword research template to track your keyword performance.
Also, you may use color-coding criteria for red=high, yellow=medium, and green=low to organize your keywords according to its priorities. These priorities are following based on your target keywords search volume and competition score as well as the ranking on SERPs.
The description of the mentioned color-coding criteria are as follows:
At this phase, you should have understood your key objectives and results, your target audience’s behavior as well as understanding your keywords opportunities according to its performance on SERPs.
After getting these steps done, you need to make sure how it all combines together. This is the part where you’ll use the pillar content and topic cluster approach. Let’s take a look at it below.
4. Pillar Content & Topic Cluster Approach
So, what is the pillar content & topic cluster approach?
The pillar content and topic cluster approach is a search engine optimization strategy that was created to respond to the changes that search engines are making and also one of the most efficient ways to get your target keywords ranked.
What is Pillar Content?
Pillar content is known as an extensive resource page or long article that encompasses a specific topic in detail and links to high-quality content on the same webpage that discusses on the subtopic keywords.
For more information, you can check out an article here on the 5 Steps to Developing Successful Pillar Content.
What are Topic Clusters?
Topic clusters are 6 to 8 articles that link to your supporting topics and subtopic keywords that are related to your pillar. These topic clusters are usually in the form of a blog post and landing pages that are connected to your pillar content.
When forming a keyword research strategy for pillar content and topic clusters, you have to scout for opportunities to classify the keywords that you are targeting, including synonyms and the variations of keywords being used, and find ways to add the existing content into your strategy.
This article has entailed how can you do proper keyword research for your website beginning from the types of keywords